The votes are in for Katmai National Park’s annual Fat Bear Week tournament and 747 is the champion! There couldn’t have been a more epic matchup than the championship face-off between two aptly named bears: 747 and Chunk, aka Bear 32. In the end, 747 pulled ahead with more than 47,300 votes compared to Chunk’s roughly 21,900 votes.
The annual elimination tournament began in 2014 as a way to celebrate how fat and healthy the park’s bears are. Katmai is one of the most famous places for bear watching in Alaska. Visitors to the park and its Bear Cam webpage can watch the bears splash around in the Brooks River and binge on migrating sockeye salmon. Competition aside, the bears are on a mission to consume enough calories to last them throughout the long winter ahead, when they might hibernate blissfully in their dens for up to six months. If only we could do the same.
This year’s champion, 747, is one of the park’s biggest bears and was estimated to weigh over 1,400 pounds after bulking up last September. It was the first time the park was able to gauge the actual weight of the gargantuan bears by using a 3D scanner. As a boss bear, Chunk easily dominates some of the best fishing spots in Katmai — like the coveted “jacuzzi” below the Brooks Falls, which Katmai describes as a sort of “plunge pool” where the bears can simply sit and wait for the fish to come close enough for them to pin with their paws or voluptuous figures.
Chunk is another big boy at Katmai, weighing in at over 1,100 pounds last September. Even though Chunk sits at “the top tier of the bear hierarchy,” according to Katmai, he’s been a surprisingly gentle giant lately. He’s been known to push other bears out of his way in the past but has recently been seen playing around with other bears and patiently waiting to scavenge leftovers from others. There’s a lot to appreciate in a bear that leads by example; we could all use a little more kindness, patience, and play this year.